Climate Change Is A Problem That Needs Our Local Action To Achieve A Global Impact

By Heidi Yeung

Climate change may seem too big an issue to tackle on an individual level, but two environmental advocates we invited to speak at our latest edition of Cloud Talk discuss why it's dangerous to think so

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Dr Emma Camp is a marine biologist, and a stout advocate for girls and women in Stem (Photo: Rolex)
Cover  Dr Emma Camp, who was on the panel of the latest edition of Cloud Talk, is a marine biologist and a stout advocate for girls and women in Stem (Photo: Rolex)

Gen.T+

On August 3, we held a Cloud Talk to discuss the importance of individual actions in the fight against climate change.

The session was organised in partnership with Rolex, as part of Tatler's Under the Same Sky campaign with the luxury watchmaker to raise awareness about the people and solutions addressing the world's most pressing environmental challenges.  

Participating in the session were two women who are driving positive changes in environmental conservation.

The panel

Rolex Laureate Dr Emma Camp is a marine biologist and an advocate for girls and women in science, technology, engineering and medicine (Stem), whose research focuses on coral reefs.

Gen.T honouree Natalie Chung co-founded V’air, a Hong Kong-based social enterprise that promotes sustainable tourism and climate education. 

Here are some highlights from their discussion with Gen.T's Lee Williamson.

Read more: 8 Social Activists Making A Change In Southeast Asia

Don’t assume that you don’t matter

To Chung, “local action means understanding that our own individual efforts do add up”.

This means, “anybody, anywhere can make a difference,” Camp added. “[Change] comes from one person somewhere deciding to do things differently. And from there momentum builds into a whole movement of people trying to turn the tide.”

An unfortunate example of how true their statements are can be seen from the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic when many cities across the world went into lockdown. According to ScienceDirect, a database of academic journals, reduced human activity resulted in cleaner water and air for many countries. 

Further, sticking to new habits isn’t the only way we, as individuals, can fight climate change.

Read more: From Sustainability To Empowering Victims Of Abuse: 4 Beauty Brands Driving Positive Change

Raise your voice

Similar to the accumulative power of good habits shared by a large collective, many voices saying the same thing have the potential to affect change.

“Whether it’s through activism or advocacy, we can demand the government and private sector to do things differently,” Chung said.

“If you have the privilege to vote, it’s important that you educate yourself and understand where climate fits in the agenda for the people you’re voting for,” Camp added.

Further education also means learning the ripple effects of your own choices.

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Natalie Chung was named a 2021 Gen.T honouree for encouraging people to approach tourism more responsibly
Above  Natalie Chung was named a 2021 Gen.T honouree for encouraging people to approach tourism more responsibly

Make mindful choices

“As a marine biologist who has to travel, I always assess the flights I take,” Camp said. “Do I really need to take that flight, or are there other ways to get there? If I do have to take that flight, can I meaningfully offset that travel? Can I pool trips together to limit the flights I take?”

It’s all about intentionally reducing your carbon footprint, but where do we start?

“Instead of doing something differently, I would recommend an incremental approach,” she added. “Try substitutional behaviours that still give you the same enjoyment but can reduce your environmental impact.”

Read more: Be Stylish And Sustainable: 3 Gen.T Honourees Show Us How

Get informed as a consumer

Not every company has an eco-mission, and even among those that do, it’s important to be aware of the authenticity of their claims.

“It’s very easy for companies to claim to be carbon neutral, but it’s very hard to assess which ones are actually doing it,” Chung said, and shares that she recently discovered a website that targets greenwashing, an increasingly widespread “practice of falsifying or overstating the green credentials of a product, service, brand or even a company itself”. 

It’s crucial to educate ourselves on the services or products we choose as you never know what the knock-on effect is of something we’re buying. To you, it might just be a plastic toothbrush, but the production of that toothbrush contributes to melting glaciers, Chung added.

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Dr Emma Camp is a marine biologist, Rolex Laureate and Nat Geo Explorer (Photo: Rolex)
Above  Dr Emma Camp is a marine biologist, Rolex Laureate and Nat Geo Explorer (Photo: Rolex)

It's an uphill battle

“Our biggest challenge is to get the message across to people who don’t care about climate change at all,” Chung acknowledged. “People seldom see the connection between smart action and a bigger change in your environment and people around you”, and so they don’t see the point.

But just because we don’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not happening.

In fact, what pushed Camp into dedicating her life to marine preservation was a trip to Indonesia, where she met people whose entire lives depended on coral reefs.

“There are communities all over the world that rely entirely on ecosystems,” she said. “Losing these systems will mean social displacement and economic crises.”

Disregarding the plight they might face should we continue to be nonchalant is not an option, because for them, climate change is as much a global issue as it is a personal one.


This edition of Cloud Talk was held in partnership with Rolex through its Perpetual Planet initiative. Part of Tatler’s Under The Same Sky campaign with the watchmaker. The Rolex Awards for Enterprise support exceptional individuals who have the courage and conviction to take on major challenges, and it is accepting applications from now until October 17, 2022. Find out more and apply to become a 2023 Rolex Laureate here.

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